Understanding the ROI of employee advocacy programs

The Wall Street Journal cites the cost of an average Facebook fan at $1.07. Considering that the average Facebook user only sees content from approximately 10% – 20% of the Facebook pages they have liked, we think that’s a little high. And when we consider that the vast majority of individuals trust user-generated content (such as Yelp reviews, peer recommendations, and social shares), we’re even less impressed. This is why a successful employee advocacy program can be one of your most valuable marketing tools.
Assuming that your employees are a reflection of your brand values, their connections are probably somewhat similar to them and may share some of the same interests and shopping habits as your employees. That means the people who do see your content may be more likely to want to interact with your brand. Lastly, it builds trust. Happy employees are great brand advocates in the making, so let them shine.

To help you get started, here are four simple steps to launch an employee advocacy program.

Inspire your employees

The easiest way to launch an employee advocacy program is to inspire your employees to do it themselves. That is to say that they need to want to promote your brand. If your employees like working for you, believe in your products and the value of your services, they will be more likely to promote your brand and share their positive experiences on social media. This seems simple, but hiring the right people in the right roles can be tricky. Making sure those same people stay engaged and grow with the organization is equally difficult. Invest in a solid HR program, take time to get to know your employees creating a fun work culture, solicit their feedback about the work environment, AND your products. Then listen.

Carrot vs. stick

Incentivize your employees to share positive content. The carrot always wins. Host a competition for most creative social media posts. Include social influence as criteria when considering promotions. Give your employees a gas card or Starbucks certificate for every referral that becomes a client. Whatever works. You can’t make employee advocacy programs mandatory and expect success, but you can encourage your employees to participate by speaking their language and understanding what motivates them to do so.

Carefully choose content

Avoid burnout by cherry picking critical content or timely posts you want your employees to share. Even the most enthusiastic employee advocates won’t be willing to constantly share your content, so make sure your ask is meaningful and impactful. This will help your employees see the value in what they’re doing and be more inclined to give it their best shot. Focus on special promotions, off-season deals, or right before a product launch. It’s also important to set clear guidelines about the type of content that should be shared and how it should be promoted. Make sure expectations are clear and you are setting your employees – and yourself – up for success.

Lead by example

Although you may not be in the habit of connecting with your employees on social media, you can use screenshots of your own outreach as an example or share stories of how your outreach has inspired you or had an impact on your quarterly goals. Your employees should feel comfortable and confident that their privacy is intact, but that everyone is participating equally. This is an especially important gesture of goodwill when you’re asking people to give a personal endorsement on a professional brand.

Learn more about how we have leveraged our clients’ social media accounts to generate buzz and build meaningful employee and customer advocacy programs here. There is nothing more powerful than word of mouth.

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